I’ve always been a devotee of Beyoncé as a celebrity, force of nature, and all-around iconic goddess, but I’ve never been a huge fan of her music.
I’ve enjoyed her singles over the years (specifically, ‘Crazy in Love,’ ‘If I Were a Boy,’ ‘Irreplaceable,’ Halo,’ and ‘Single Ladies’) but the accompanying albums never grabbed me.
That changed with the singer’s 2013 self-titled release, her first “visual album,” a contemporary R&B release that hit on all cylinders. Whether it was the erotic hip-hop of ‘Drunk in Love,’ the disco-funk of ‘Blow,’ or the ecstatic pop balladry of ‘XO,’ I suddenly understood the hype.
A couple of weeks ago we received our first taste of Beyoncé’s first solo studio album since 2016’s Lemonade. ‘Break My Soul’ is the lead single of Renaissance, a project due on July 29 that Queen Bey calls her “most ambitious musical project to date.”
Lemonade was both a groundbreaking release — a complete visual album recorded in secret and dropped with no advance notice — and a phenomenal piece of music. It’s a tough act to follow, especially after half a decade. I eagerly anticipate the new directions Beyoncé will no doubt take on Renaissance.
Continuing my personal 2021 Oscar rundown, today I’m focusing on the gentlemen I would recognize for Best Actor.
First a shout out to five actors I considered for this lineup but ended up leaving out. Alphabetically, they are Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Peter Dinklage (Cyrano), Joaquin Phoenix (C'mon C'mon), and Anthony Ramos (In the Heights).
Wonderful performances, all.
While I won’t argue with anybody who names 2016’s Lemonade as Beyoncé’s masterpiece, I do feel respect must be paid to the icon’s 2013 self-titled album.
The daring and sexy Beyoncé was the artist’s first “visual album” and the first she dropped unannounced, two tactics she repeated with great success on Lemonade. In ‘XO,’ ‘Drunk in Love’ and ‘Flawless,’ the album offered up three tracks as iconic as anything on its follow-up.
The same year Jay-Z released what he called his “retirement” album, his new girlfriend and future wife, Beyoncé Knowles, released her debut, Dangerously in Love.
Beyoncé had a successful career already as part of Destiny’s Child, but the trio had begun releasing solo material in order to boost the band’s profile. The move wound up boosting Beyoncé’s profile, no doubt, but Destiny’s Child released only one more album and Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams had less illustrious solo careers.